Every month 1.8 million users log onto Facebook to check in with their friends, organise meetups, and share the latest funny cat picture that’s got everyone laughing.
For business owners, Facebook’s News Feed is a perfect commercial platform from which to gain extra exposure for their brand, but over the past few months visibility for many business pages has been increasingly hard to come by as Facebook refines and tweaks its algorithms.
Between October 2013 and February 2014, a Social@Ogilvy analysis recorded a dramatic 49% drop in reach for the Facebook pages of 100 large brands, some of which with a total following of over 500,000 users.
If big companies with large marketing budgets can’t get the most out of Facebook, what hope do small and medium-size businesses have?
Thankfully it’s not all doom and gloom for business owners hoping to tap into arguably the most effective social media network for advertising.
Before exploring how to increase Facebook reach it’s important to understand exactly what it is.
What is Facebook Reach?
Post reach is the number of people who have seen your post. Your post counts as reaching someone when it’s shown in News Feed.”
It sounds simple, but in reality post reach isn’t magnified by the number or people who see it. The chances of a Page update being seen by a wide range of people is calculated on thousands of unique factors based on the actions of each user who sees the post.
For each user that engages with the post positively the algorithm is adjusted in the post’s favour. Every negative action — hiding the post, unfollowing the page, and simply scrolling past it without engaging at all — by each user again affects the algorithm and the reach potential too.
Furthermore, the News Feed is becoming an overly crowded battleground where space is becoming limited. More businesses are starting to drive brand awareness and generate sales leads through the platform — even more of a reason why every business should be competing there — and the small percentage of non-organic content being shown (roughly 24% of a typical News Feed) is making reach harder, and harder to come by.
With average reach at roughly 8.24% for branded Facebook Pages during July 2015, is Facebook Reach dead as an advertising option?
Is Facebook Reach Dead?
Facebook Reach isn’t dead. It just takes a reviewed strategy to capitalise on it.
What worked a year ago isn’t going to cut it with any of the social media networks. Adjusting with the times and algorithm changes is a crucial part of working within the system to promote both new, and old businesses.
In truth, the changes to the algorithm over the past few years have reduced the possibility of gaming the system, which has levelled the playing field for everyone.
Businesses with 500,000+ Likes on their brand page are seeing the same reduction of reach as new pages with less than 1,000 followers. As Facebook becomes more pay-to-play that does mean that bigger businesses with bigger budgets still have a slight upper-hand, but with as little as a £65 ($100) monthly spend on boosting and advertising post updates, brand pages can still see reach in the tens of thousands.
All that’s required is great content and a strong social media strategy.
Which Content Is Working?
Only a handful of years ago businesses were generating sales by simply posting the occasional update listing the latest product, sale, or discount. Fast forward to the middle of 2015 and video posts are racing ahead as the most engaging multimedia update.
Since Facebook launched native video uploading in 2013, everyone from Beyonce to great-aunt Esme have been uploading short videos to their profiles and pages in the hopes of gaining attention — and it’s working.
In November 2015, limelight-loving singer Miley Cyrus shared a fan-made video on her Official Facebook Page. Within just a few hours the total views numbered more than 400,000. After two weeks the count passed 950,000 and continuing to rise, even though the News Feed algorithm would have moved on to promoting newer content.
Uploading a well-created video as part of a social media campaign can deliver strong engagement and with it an expanded total reach.
You don’t have to be Spielberg to create effective videos. You don’t need a large budget either.
With a few simple tools you can create engaging behind-the-scenes videos, interviews with your staff, product demos, and in-person customer reviews that will engage and expand the visibility of your brand.
Facebook loves multimedia content, as do the millions of users who use it every day.
The users love it because it inspires them and makes them giggle. Facebook loves it because it keeps you on their site.
Any uploaded content that keeps users within the platform is heavily favoured by the News Feed algorithm because it doesn’t link out to other websites. They want users to stay within the social network in order to collect more data about each of them so that they can show more ads, watch the engagement of each ad, and then refine that information to show the user better and more relevant ads in the future.
Link updates that take people out of the platform are favoured less by the algorithm because once users leave Facebook their ability to track the user stops dead.
Should the website on the other end have a Facebook Pixel then the link is preferred more, but only in order to track and feedback the data on the other end back into their advertising system.
Does that mean link updates should be avoided? No.
Links are still one of the highest engaged updates on Facebook behind only videos and photos. Users love to click interesting links and will follow a brand Page solely because they trust them to share something either intriguing or useful.
Whether at work, on the bus, or at home; people love seeing interesting photographs that transport them somewhere else, especially if it invokes a Fear of Missing Out.
Travel agents see fantastic engagement when they share beautiful landscapes.
Luxury car showrooms see a remarkably high engagement on pictures of the luxury cars on their parking lot.
Every business using Facebook as a promotional tool should be showcasing exactly why their product or service is a must.
Of course, not everyone is selling dream holidays and sports cars. So what can the plumber, electrician, or hairdresser do to promote their services?
Sharing reality-focused pictures of the team, the product in use, and behind-the-scenes snaps makes the most of the personality of the brand as the sales tool. People will Like, comment, and share photos that show humanity. They can relate with them. They see themselves working hard in their own jobs and understand the passion the team has for the product. Some may even enjoy seeing the unique work environment enough to apply to work there themselves.
The key is to share photos that relate to the business or industry. Trending photographs have their use, but sharing them can lead to a negative impact on the post reach and visibility in the News Feed and are best avoided.
Instead, taking the theme of the photo and taking a photograph inspired by it of the business’s product or staff can have a larger success rate than simply re-sharing the original.
Although text updates have become the least engaged social update on Facebook pages, they’re still a worthy tool.
Text statuses can be used for a number of reasons, including:
- A/B testing: Heels or trainers. Which do you prefer? Like for heels. Share for trainers.
- To drive awareness: Hit LIKE if you want to know our new ice cream flavour
- Ask questions: With a free flight, I’d love to visit ______
Used occasionally, a text status update can be a highly visible way of engaging and gaining knowledge about a follower’s intentions.
Engaging Content Isn’t Enough
Utilising the combination of multimedia updates available on a well-strategised publishing calendar can have a dramatic effect towards an increased total reach. Visibility will be increased and with it the knowledge of the business and the product or service on sale — but it’s still not enough.
Television and radio adverts cost thousands. National and local papers are also extremely expensive to run adverts in, especially when a campaign lasts over many weeks or an entire financial quarter.
Where else can a business reach a targeted audience or demographic numbering in the tens of thousands for as little as £3 ($5) a day?
There’s no need to pay to Boost Post for every update shared, but using the advertising platform to highlight and increase the focus around a handful of updates per week can often increase the visibility and reach of your campaign tenfold.
Reaching a large audience on Facebook has become more challenging over the past few years as the platform continually evolves the algorithm of its News Feed, but it’s not impossible.
By utilising the most engaging types of status update, both small and large business owners can interact with tens of thousands of new users who might otherwise have been missed.
Great videos, dynamic photos, and the very best link updates mean that gaining reach for both new and old Facebook pages is high achievable. With the addition of just a few dollars spent on boosting and advertising the best updates, discovering new sales leads is only a matter of time.
Which update works best for you?
You can find more details on how to get the best out of your social media marketing via our new book Profitable Social Media Marketing: How To Grow Your Business